Canadian prisoner not Hector’s hero

The man who was believed to be Mbuyisa Makhubu.

The man who was believed to be Mbuyisa Makhubu.

Published Sep 26, 2013


Johannesburg - The prisoner languishing in a Canadian jail is not 1976 Soweto uprising hero Mbuyisa Makhubu, a senior government official said on Wednesday.

He told The Star DNA results have come back negative.

They revealed the man was South African, but not the teenager that carried the dying Hector Pieterson away as apartheid police shot at striking students on June 16.

The well-placed source said the results were handed over to South Africa’s ambassador to Canada, Membathisi Mdladlana, last Thursday.

They have since been communicated to President Jacob Zuma and some members of the cabinet.

“The DNA results have come back and it’s not him (Makhubu). We got the results as early as last week Thursday.

“They were handed over to the country’s high commissioner in Canada, Mdladlana, who communicated them to Dirco (Department of International Relations and Co-operation). Through Dirco, the highest office in the land was informed,” the source said.

However, the Department of Arts and Culture appeared to be still in the dark about the results on Wednesday.

Spokesman Mogomotsi Mogodiri said the government was “on the final stages of the verification process” and expected the results within the next few days.

“As soon as it’s concluded, which we are hoping would be in a matter of days, he should be able to fly back home together with the team that is in Canada. Ourselves, Dirco and Home Affairs are making preparations, doing paperwork to ensure that they are ready for him,” Mogodiri said.

However, the source insisted last night that the prisoner was definitely not Makhubu.

“Yes, he is South African but not Mbuyisa. Not even remotely. It was clear from the onset that we are dealing with a chance-taker. A Joe Blog who broke the law in that country. The problem is that the guy is not even well mentally.”

It is understood the prisoner is being detained in a jail in Ottawa, Canada’s fourth largest city.

When contacted by The Star on Wednesday, the Makhubu family spokeswoman Mbali Simelane promised to comment later. However, her cellphone was on voicemail on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, a tug-of-war has erupted between various government departments and entities involved in efforts to trace Makhubu. They include the SAPS, Home Affairs, Dirco and Arts and Culture.

They accuse one another of having at best handled information about the prisoner’s links to Makhubu recklessly, or at worst leaking it to the media.

This came after The Star’s exposé apparently created diplomatic ructions between South Africa and Canada.

A diplomatic source said Canada raised concerns that the story created an impression that they were insensitive in their handling of a South African struggle hero by jailing Makhubu for eight years.

A senior bureaucrat accused the Department of Arts and Culture on Wednesday of having mishandled sensitive information about efforts to trace Makhubu.

He said Minister Paul Mashatile’s department had “opened old wounds” for the family unnecessarily.

“Arts and Culture have created a mess and that egg must blow in their face. Government at a higher level took the decision that we can’t trust them because they are reckless.

“This is very sad. You don’t handle state information like that.”

Mogodiri’s phone rang unanswered on Wednesday night.

Dirco referred all enquiries to SAPS spokesman Solomon Makgale, who said “I will call you later”.


The then 17-year-old Makhubu was immortalised by photographer Sam Nzima carrying the shot Pieterson.

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